Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
With wind power developers trying to push into Alberta and Saskatchewan, industry lobbyist CanWEA is trying its best to counteract what’s going on in Ontario where an attack of reality has changed boomtimes to downturn, says energy analyst Parker Gallant.
In a posting on his website today, he says the trade association is making claims about its value and contribution to Ontario’s economy that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
For example, CanWEA claims that wind power is the lowest-cost option for generating electricity.
“[CanWEA president Hornung] doesn’t specify what he is referring to! One should suspect the reference is to either the LOCE (levelized cost of electricity) or the cost of fuel (wind is free), but in either case his claim has nothing to do with what Ontario ratepayers pay for the intermittent and unreliable nature of the actual wind power generation. That annually averages only 29/30% of its capacity and is out of sync with actual demand 65% of the time.”
And as usual, CanWEA boasts of the environmental benefits of “clean” wind power. The facts say otherwise:
“What is interesting about this latter claim is that the Fraser Institute back in January 2017 in another report stated: ‘The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertook a special analysis of the role of U.S. emissions in Ontario air quality in 2005, which showed that a majority of O3 (ground level ozone) and PM2.5 (particulate matter) was due to U.S.-based emissions and would not be reduced by cutting emissions in Ontario.’ ”
Wind power revenue is from the Global Adjustment subsidy, not actual power sales. Recent moves by government to cancel new contracts won’t get electricity bills down (but will stop them from going up) — more action needed says the Fraser Institute
October 4, 2018
A new report from the Fraser Institute says that decisive action is needed on Ontario’s wind and solar contracts of the new government under Premier Doug Ford is serious about getting consumers’ electricity bills down.
“Energy poverty” is a new watchword in the province as the Liberal governments’ renewable energy policies, which were not based on any kind of cost-benefit analysis, boosted electricity customers’ power bills sky-high, forcing many families to have to choose to “heat or eat.” The association of food banks noted electricity bills as a critical factor in poverty in its 2016 “Hunger Report.”
Moves by the Ford government to cancel new renewables projects, including three huge wind power projects, may stop future increases but they won’t get current bills down.
“The logical next step for the government would be to use its legislative powers to cancel funding commitments under the FIT contracts. This would reduce the GA by almost 40 percent, resulting in an approximately 24 percent reduction in residential electricity prices.
In addition to cancelling the existing FIT contracts, the Ontario government could take further action to reform various other components of the GA, including reducing payments to the relatively new small-scale hydroelectric plants of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and cutting funding for unneeded conservations programs. In order to quantify the potential consumer price reductions from such measures it would be necessary to examine detailed GA allocation accounts, which have not been released publicly.”
By scrapping the Green Energy Act, passed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty in 2009, Premier Doug Ford is ending one of the worst legislative disasters ever inflicted on the people of Ontario.
Ford ran on repealing the GEA and the end of this appalling legislation cannot come soon enough.
The GEA is largely responsible for Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity prices.
It’s the reason we’re paying outrageously high prices for green energy the Liberals didn’t need in order to eliminate coal power, which was actually done using nuclear power and natural gas.
The jobs the Liberals promised under the GEA never materialized, according to former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 annual report.
The GEA made Ontario’s energy grid less efficient because it required the province to buy expensive and unreliable wind and solar power from green energy developers under 20-year contracts, before purchasing other forms of energy.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported in 2016 that Ontario electricity consumers had overpaid $9.2 billion for green energy, because the Liberals ignored the advice of their own experts on how to price it.
The GEA led to the gas plants scandal, because the Liberals had to frantically build new natural gas plants to back up the unreliable power they were getting from wind and solar energy, then scrapped the gas plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election.
As PC Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said Thursday, the GEA took away the planning rights of municipalities, which will now be restored, leaving them without any say in the location of green energy infrastructure.
That deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turningneighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, still ranting about Ford cutting the size of Toronto council in half, voted with the Liberals to pass the GEA, a far more sweeping attack on municipal governments.
Under the GEA, the Liberals abdicated from the proper role of government, which is to balance public and private interests.
Instead, they became cheerleaders for the wealthy green energy lobby.
Citizens opposed to green energy projects imposed on their communities faced the impossible task of fighting the industry and the Liberal government.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported by the CBC, revealed the Liberals ignored warnings from their own environment ministry that the province needed stricter noise limits on turbines, had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them, and that computer models for determining residential setbacks were flawed.
In 2011, when McCarter investigated the Liberals’ renewable energy strategy built around the GEA, he reported his auditors had to start from scratch, because the Liberals, incredibly, “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.”
McCarter warned the GEA had, “created a new process to expedite the development of renewable energy by providing the Minister (of Energy) with the authority to supersede many of the government’s usual planning and regulatory processes … As a result no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate” its financial impacts.
Ford is right to scrap the GEA.
The tragedy is that the economic damage it caused under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals will be felt for decades to come.
In a shocking speech in Toronto this morning, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the provincial debt is $15B, a fact that was hidden from the public by the former government.
In fact, during the pre-election period this year, the Wynne government claimed it would have a “small surplus” when the reality was a deficit of more than $3B.
The Global Adjustment charge on electricity bills and the Fair Hydro Plan were “specifically designed” to hide billions in debt.
The bad practices started early on with the Green Energy Act, Fedeli said, in which Liberal insiders were given lucrative contracts for wind power projects to supply power Ontario didn’t need. The government started the process to repeal the Green Energy Act, which was supported by the NDP in 2009, yesterday.
Mr. Fedeli said that the Ford government plans to enact solid financial management.
They could start by cancelling the Romney Wind and Nation Rise wind power projects, which would represent savings of $700 million.
The new Ontario government has cancelled the Green Energy Act in an announcement today, ending so-called “sweetheart” deals for expensive renewable energy that hiked consumers’ power bills and brought hardship to Ontario rural communities through forced industrialization.
Wind Concerns Ontario has long advocated for cancellation of the act which promoted large-scale wind power projects, without any cost-benefit or financial analysis, as was recommended to the McGuinty-Wynne governments by two Auditors General.
“This is the first step in the unwinding of the terrible damage done to our quiet rural communities,” said president Jane Wilson. “We know that the Green Energy removed democracy for our towns, hamlets and villages and forced upon them huge, noisy power generators that had enormous environmental, social and human impacts. Those impacts are still being felt as people are living with the noise and vibration, enduring endless sleepless nights and a range of harmful health effects from exposure to turbine noise emissions.”
The government News Release follows:
Ontario’s Government for the People Introduces Legislation to Repeal the Green Energy Act
Municipalities to have final say on new energy projects
September 20, 2018
TORONTO — Ontario’s Government for the People is delivering on its promise to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, announced today.
The original Green Energy Act led to the disastrous feed-in-tariff program and skyrocketing electricity rates for Ontario families, and took away powers from municipalities to stop expensive and unneeded energy projects in their communities. Under the last government energy rates tripled, hurting families and driving manufacturing jobs out of Ontario.
“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history,” said Minister Rickford.
“Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind-farms and solar panels that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need.” Minister McNaughton added. “Today we are proud to say that the party with taxpayers’ money is over.”
The ministers announced that the government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will fully strike the Green Energy Act from the province’s books. This will include repealing provisions that stripped away the power of local municipalities to block unwanted wind and solar farms.
“The Green Energy Act allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” said Minister McNaughton. “But we believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities.”
The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to stop approvals for wasteful energy projects where the need for electricity has not been demonstrated. This would put the brakes on additional projects that would add costs to electricity bills that the people of Ontario simply cannot afford.
“One of the first actions your government took was to cancel 758 expensive and wasteful energy projects as part of our plan to cut hydro rates by 12 per cent for the people of Ontario, saving $790 million for electricity customers,” said Minister Rickford. “The days of sweetheart deals for energy insiders and unpopular projects forced on local municipalities are over.”
According to the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Energy System Operator, wind and solar added $3.75 billion in costs to electricity bills in 2017.
Wind and solar represent just 11 per cent of total generation in Ontario, but reflect 30 per cent of Global Adjustment costs that are borne by electricity customers
In 2017, 26 per cent of electricity generated from wind and solar was curtailed, or wasted. This is electricity that Ontarians paid for, but didn’t need or use.
Parker Gallant’s latest posting is in response to a new document from Canada’s wind power lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA.
CanWEA is carrying out an energetic campaign of persuasion as it is concurrently trying to promote a massive build of wind power in Alberta and Saskatchewan and defending its record in Ontario. With a new government that has pledged not only to cancel new contracts for huge unnecessary wind power projects (mostly, but not quite, done–Romney and North Stormont are still in process), but also to renegotiate existing contracts where possible.
That’s bad news for the trade association hoping to keep the gravy train going.
So, they have created a detailed characterization of the “success” wind power has been in Ontario. There is no mention of the inarguable environmental impacts, or of the thousands of formal reports of excessive wind turbine noise and adverse health effects–in some cases, so extreme people have been forced to leave their homes.
While the wind power projects may be able to “prove” compliance, using a very flawed protocol, the fact that hundreds of complaints are filed each month is a sure indicator of serious problems.
Here is Parker Gallant’s take on the CanWEA promotion piece.
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO
NOTE: If you are experiencing problems with wind turbine noise/vibration/sensation, stray voltage from wind power infrastructure, or disturbed well water, it is absolutely imperative that you file complaints with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The new government needs to know there are problems, and the public service needs to understand it is not status quo from the previous, pro-wind at any cost government.
Call the Spills Line 1-866-MOE-TIPS any time, be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of your call and the circumstances leading to your call. You may also call the individual wind power operator for the power project you believe is affecting you.
“Friend against friend”: Of the 420 people on Amherst Island, 350 opposed the “Windlectric” wind power project, Farmers’ Forum reports. The result is a community ripped apart, that may never come together again
September 8, 2018
By Tom Collins and Patrick Meagher
Amherst Island — The blades on 26 new wind turbines on Amherst Island started turning in mid-June following a decade-long battle that divided the small island community west of Kingston and turned friend against friend.
Some people still don’t wave to neighbours. Others decline to buy products from those who hold an opposing view, at the Saturday morning market.
The island (population 420) is now home to the fourth operating wind energy project in Eastern Ontario. About 350 islanders joined an association to stop the turbines. There are 86 turbines on the next island over, Wolfe Island, five more turbines just west of Kingston [Ernestown], and 10 at Brinston, 20 minutes southeast of Kemptville.
A Prince Edward County project that was under construction was recently cancelled by Premier Dog Ford as a cost-saving measure.
Several people said the Amherst Island community–you take a ferry to get there–was mostly split between two factions: the anti-turbine group included those who moved to the island since the 1990s and don’t own much land. The pro-turbine group consists of generational families with plenty of space to host turbines.
Sheep farmer Dave Willard, whose family has lived on the island since 1850, has two turbines on his farm and said while things have gotten better, there are still four people who won’t wave to him when he passes by.
“These are not people I grew up with,” he said, adding that turbines are divisive because of the visual aspect. “It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t bother me much.”
There are 17 landowners hosting the 26 turbines. Willard says while there will be good years and bad years, he estimated he won’t earn less than $10,000 a year from each turbine. “It doesn’t matter. If it were $2,000 a year, that would be fine by me,” he said.
Sheep farmer Cherry Allen at Flat Foot Farm is Willard’s neighbor and used to have 1,600 ewes. But they had to cut back to 600 because of the turbine construction on land they rented.
Allen, who runs the farm with partner Mark Ritchie, said they run a closed flock and it will take about three or four years to get back to 1,600 ewes.
Allen, who opposes the turbines, said that one of Willard’s turbines is 700 metres from her house. She said she can hear the turbine but it’s far enough away that she blocks out the noise.
While she doesn’t find them an eyesore, “they remind me of all the angst that has gone on before this and is still going on,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think the community will heal for a generation. “It’s going to take that long to rebuild. It’s pretty sad.”
Sheep farmer Ian Murray of Topsy Farms said his farm was approached several times by Algonquin Power to host a turbine. The farm is run by five partners and Murray said one of the partners didn’t like the look of the turbines.
Too much control by the power developer
Murray felt the wind companies wanted too much control. “We felt it was inappropriate for Amherst Island,” he said. “Saying that, I have no problem with my neighbours…. I have a big problem with the previous Ontario government, making things so lucrative.”
Homeowner Laurie Kilpatrick said the wind carries the noise that can sound like an airplane that never arrives, or a constant “swish, swish, swish.”
The last of Brian Little’s four children headed off to university this year,so Little put the family’s island home up for sale. He can see eight turbines from his back deck and hasn’t had an offer in the six months he’s tried to sell. He’s also close to a substation where all the turbine electricity is collected.”
They don’t do anything
“Prior to the Green Energy Act, you couldn’t build within 1,100 metres of a residence or school. In our case, the substation is 400 metres from our house and 700 metres from an elementary school.”
“It frustrates me that they don’t do anything. We have more than enough electricity in this province.”
Little has a point. Other sources of energy can provide enough power in the province. As it stands, Ontario sells excess power at a loss to U.S. states and Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.
Looking at one weekend in July, Ontario’s wind power produced 1.3 per cent of Ontario’s demand for energy, and there were 2,515 turbines operating in Ontario, as of December, the vast majority in Western Ontario, said Parker Gallant, a green energy critic who writes an energy sector blog.
He estimated that wind power costs Ontario taxpayers a net loss of $1.9 billion per year.
Big Wind’s Canadian lobbyist is not letting the bad experiences in Ontario halt its “green” dream, and is now focused on Alberta. (And, it really really hopes Ontario forgets all the bad stuff.)
September 4, 2018
The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA is enacting a hard-hitting PR campaign, promoting wind power as a “low-cost” form of electrical power generation that can also provide hundreds of jobs. Aimed at hard-hit Alberta, the message is clear: you get to meet climate/environment goals, grow your economy (or at least keep it from going over a cliff), and replace the faltering oil industry.
The lobbyist even points to a recent report that apparently confirms all that so you don’t have to just take their word for it.
But there’s a problem. Energy commentator Parker Gallant in his newest post says that the report referred to by CanWEA fails to explain that the jobs will be temporary, and also, that they may not actually be in Alberta.
And there’s another problem: the newest rosy outlook for wind power fails to chronicle the disastrous history of wind power development in Ontario. Two Auditors General took the previous Liberal governments to task for pushing wind power forward without any cost-benefit analysis, and current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has noted that, because of above-market contracts awarded by those same McGuinty and Wynne governments, Ontario’s electricity customers overpaid for power by more than $9 billion.
The Association of Ontario Food Banks linked growing poverty and specifically “energy poverty” to Ontario’s skyrocketing electricity bills, in its 2016 annual report on hunger in the province.
Electricity bills have been named as a factor in businesses leaving Ontario and job losses.
But even looking back at a road full of failure—high electricity bills, environmental harm such as dead birds and endangered bats, and thousands of citizen noise complaints—CanWEA is not giving up where money might still be made. The lobbyist is hoping to sway the new Ford government not to cancel wind power contracts as the PC Party pledged to do during the election because wind power can happily fill in for nuclear plants when several units have to go offline in a couple of years for refurbishment. Rumour has it they have even purchased ads on Toronto Transit vehicles.
The sad fact, omitted by CanWEA, is that wind can’t replace anything. It is intermittent, unreliable, and in Ontario, produced out-of-phase with demand. Output from Ontario’s closed coal power plants was made up by nuclear and hydro.
Ontario’s Society of Professional Engineers says that, because wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from other forms of generation, meaning natural gas, wind power will actually increase carbon emissions, not reduce them.
It’s even worse than that: According to Marc Brouillette who wrote a report for the Coalition for Clean Energy, wind power in Ontario is wasted almost 70 percent of the time. Moreover, Ontario electricity customers not only pay for wasted power, they pay generators NOT to produce power during frequent situations of surplus.
Energy analyst Steve Aplin of Ottawa recently commented on Twitter in response to CanWEA’s that wind power is a “sinkhole for ratepayers’ money.”
We really hope Alberta is smarter than politicians were back in 2003 in Ontario; we hope they can see the truth.
The Ontario government just announced cancellation of renewable energy contracts for which significant contractual milestones had not yet been met.
The move will save $790 million from being added to electricity generation costs, and passed on to consumers’ electricity or hydro bills.
The contracts to be cancelled likely include the five newest wind power projects, which were awarded contracts by the IESO in 2016, and which have not yet been given final approval. One, the “Nation Rise” project in North Stormont, did get a Renewable Energy Approval on May 4, just days before the write period for the recent election. That project is being appealed by a community group, The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.
“This was the right decision,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “There were significant environmental and health concerns inherent in each of these projects, the communities did not want them but were being forced to have these industrial power projects, and the costs would be yet more burden on Ontario citizens.”
Health effects of the noise produced by the huge wind power generators is a concern especially, as Wilson says, “because there are literally thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise across Ontario that are to this day unresolved, and the ministry under the previous government was not even responding to complaints from Ontario families. Staff noted adverse health effects in documents released to us, but no action was taken.
Given this evidence and these serious concerns, it is a good decision not to add to the existing problems with how wind power was implemented in Ontario.”
The protest was kept under wraps until the late morning yesterday in quiet, beautiful Prince Edward County.
A group of residents planned to interrupt a convoy delivering huge wind turbine parts for the “White Pines” wind power project in a peaceful manner, as an expression again of the community’s disapproval of the power project being located in the historic Loyalist area.
The environmental risks of the power project were significant — so much so that the original 29-turbine project had been reduced to 27, then finally to 9, and the remaining approval came with conditions for the Germany-based power developer WPD in order to protect the environment and wildlife. Several wildlife and nature groups have supported the fight, emphasizing the immense danger to migratory birds from the turbines, close to the shore of Lake Ontario and on a major migratory bird pathway.
The company’s commitment to those conditions has been questioned as it worked through the halt period required to protect endangered Blandings turtles; the citizens’ group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County or APPEC filed numerous actions requesting a stay of construction. Earlier this week, WPD was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act.
And then there is the power grid in Ontario: the electricity that could be produced (wind is notoriously intermittent and produced out of phase with demand) is not required in Ontario, which has a surplus of power and has been paying generators not to produce, as well as selling power on the electricity market for bargain-basement prices.
The community has been fighting the power project for 10 years, mostly in court, with a few peaceful demonstrations such as a march through Picton last fall.
Recently, it was learned that despite the fact Ontario’s soaring electricity bills were a major issue in the election campaign throughout the province, aided by the cost of wind power contracts, and the fact that this wind power project was a contentious issue in the riding, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually issued the final approval or Notice To Proceed, during the writ period.
“The previous Liberal government was in ‘caretaker’ mode when the IESO on May 11 green-lighted the litigation mired project,” said community member Liz Driver. “The community knows that the IESO were fully aware that wind projects were an election issue and that the PCs pledged to cancel projects still in development. As local journalist Rick Conroy explained in his June 27 commentary in the local Wellington Times newspaper the IESO decision trod upon centuries of parliamentary custom.
“The Notice to Proceed was kept under wraps by IESO, the wind company and the Liberals. The IESO only revealed the Notice to Proceed on its website just before the transfer of power to the PCs on June 29 to the astonishment of the community.”
The community members decided to make a point and actually interrupt the turbine delivery only to find out at the end that Ontario’s new government had announced cancelling the project was one of three priorities for its emergency call-back of the Legislature.
The issue was “time-sensitive,” said local MPP Todd Smith who is also Government House Leader, in making the announcement. The power developer was working at breakneck speed to complete the project in hopes it wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — cancelled, contrary to the PC Party promises during the election. Until the Notice To Proceed was issued in secret in May, the power developer had been working at its own risk incurring costs, and without significant permits from the municipality.
The developer has been working evenings and weekends to try to complete the project.
“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how fast they can put those things up,” said Paula Peel, a member of the executive of both APPEC and Wind Concerns Ontario.
The government will introduce legislation Thursday regarding the project.